I Am Not A Number, I Am A Free Man!

I Am Not A Number, I Am A Free Man!


Peter Burton

So went the mantra of \’The Prisoner\’, a fascinating if largely incomprehensible series in the 1960\’s.

What I\’m left with, apart from the very large white \’balloons\’ that used to appear like bizarre, menacing sheepdogs (check out a 1 min video clip on my Facebook page to see what I mean!), was the fiery insistence of \’the prisoner with no name\’ that he was, indeed more than a number.

And why is this important to me and the subject of this article today?

I had a \’non-urgent appointment with a nurse at my local doctor\’s surgery today, as a result of having a general check up a couple of weeks ago.

I figured it would be either cholesterol or blood sugar or both.

Yep, bang on.

Oh, forgot about my age. 60 years alive. (Aiming for a few more yet, but you never can tell!).

So why the connection with \’The Prisoner\’ series?

Caring and informed though she was, the nurse works, of course, within a system. And whilst she could easily see the data on the screen in front of her, a system that allows her to meet me for the first time in just a 10 minute appointment means that she doesn\’t see something more important.

Well, someone actually.

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Not that I\’m intending to claim \’specialness\’ here. This is about my longing.

What I am longing for though is to be in a system that ensures her first question after checking the Excel spreadsheet is, \’So Mr. Burton, tell me a little bit about your current lifestyle\’.

And I long for this for you too.

She might then have heard that the 2-3 weeks before the blood test was the Christmas & New Year period with abnormal amounts & types of food being eaten by yours truly.

(Note to self: \’Self, in future, do not go for a check up so soon after a holiday\’!)

That the \’family history of diabetes\’ consists of (to my knowledge) just my 67 year old alcoholic brother who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic 25 years ago, is under regular medication and visiting care.

Upon hearing this today, did she amend my notes? Was there a space on the form to do that? I\’ll take the responsibility to ask next time.

So \’lose half a stone, come back in 4 months and we\’ll see if things have changed or whether to prescribe statins\’.


Did she know that I cycle and walk more than I drive?

That I have an allotment and grow fruit and veg biodymically? (I would like to have explained my understanding of biodynamics to her. Might have been an eye opener).

Did she know that I\’m going to Peru at the end of May where I will be hill walking 2-3 hours daily (at least) at high altitude and I\’ll be preparing for that between now & then?

And I have a growing knowledge of applying the healing powers of herbs and spices?

No, actually.

Do I blame her? Heck no.

Am I outraged. You\’re danged right I am.

Outraged and incensed about a system that assumes at best that I\’m uninformed, at worst that I\’m stupid, ignorant and disinterested.

What arrogance!

No wonder the phrase \’for me\’ is so prevalent in such a system.

As in, \’….just pop this under your tongue/sit over there/put your legs up for me….\’

I\’m not doing any of those things \’for you\’ actually.

I\’m doing them for me.

The person over here. Got it?

I am not only a number….and nor are you.

Each of us living out the beautiful paradox of being connected yet separate, of being so similar yet unique.

Here to bring our uniqueness alive for the benefit of everyone.

Now that\’d a system worth creating, wouldn\’t you say?

Peter Burton is passionate about communicating in a way that creates safe, authentic relationships. A teacher, speaker author and coach, he is dedicated to helping you learn and grow. Want to know more? Time to visit


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